Tale of a Dog
The Beginning . . .
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little Spinone Italiano boy. He spent the first two months of his life with his mother, littermates and breeder. He was exposed to many aspects of life and was a very happy, well adjusted and loved boy. All too soon, the time came for him to go to his new family. A nice family came to take him home and life was good . . . for a while.
When the little boy was 7 months old, he went to a dog show where he got to see his sister, breeder and several more Spinone. He was very handsome and happy and life was still good.
Things started to change sometime in the late spring. His nice family began to have problems and the family broke up. The lady who owned him moved away to a place where he wasn’t allowed so he stayed behind. Now you would think that was OK, but things were not the same at home. He moved outside. Yes, he had plenty of food and water and the children still came to play sometimes but he no longer lived in the house. His friends were now the little horses next door. This went on through the hot summer and the bitter cold winter.
The Tale Unfolds
In the middle of winter, the dog show he had attended the previous year was coming up again so the Spinone people who were going asked his breeder for the phone number so they could call the lady to see if she would like to attend. When they reached the house, they were told the lady didn’t live there any more and were given another phone number to call. The Spinone person called the new number and left a message for the lady to call her . . . but she never called.
The Spinone person called the breeder back and told what she had learned. So, the breeder decided to call the number herself. She left a message asking the lady to call her . . . but she never called.
This went on for several days. The breeder sent the lady a message through a friend but . . . she never called.
The breeder called several more times and left messages but the lady never called.
The breeder finally decided to call the original house and see if she could learn anything. The gentleman answered and was told the purpose of the call. He was very nice and provided additional phone numbers where the lady might be reached and the fact the couple had divorced. While he was on the phone, the breeder asked about the dog. The man said the dog was fine and that he was staying at his place. He told her how the dog loved the little horses and how sweet he was and how much he always tried to please people. Knowing the man worked, the breeder asked if the dog was a good boy when he was in the house? That is when the man said ‘Oh, we don’t let him in the house’. Her heart sank. She tried to explain how important the human connection is for the Spinone but to no avail. Remember, the man doesn’t own the dog. He is just letting him stay there and living in the house was not an option he was willing to consider.
The breeder continued to try to reach the lady by calling the house, cellular and work numbers . . . but the lady never calls back. She even refused to come to the phone after the breeder was told she was available. The breeder was very upset knowing her beautiful baby was not living the life he deserved to live and wanted to offer her help until the woman had a place where she could keep the dog.
After three weeks of this run around, the breeder called a lawyer and asked for his help. He was provided with a copy of the contract, which stipulates the dog will live in the house as a member of the family, the telephone numbers and the addresses for the lady’s home and work, which were found by searching the Internet. The lawyer cautions the breeder that the courts view dogs as property and they don’t always recognize the requirements which breeders place on owners but says he is still willing to help resolve the issue. One saving grace of the contract is the stipulation that any and all court actions will take place where the breeder lives . . . not where the dog owner lives.
The lawyer was given a retainer of several hundred dollars and as a first step he sent the lady a certified letter demanding she surrender the dog because she is not in compliance with the terms of the contract. The lady is given two weeks to respond.
On the very last day of the two-week period the lawyer received a telephone call followed by a fax from an attorney representing the lady. The attorney says she has advised her client NOT to surrender the dog. She states she doubts the conditions of the contract are enforceable and if or when a lawsuit is filed they will fight it then.
The breeder’s attorney calls her and gives her this information and asks what she wants to do. Without hesitation she tells him to sue her! She cannot live with herself if she doesn’t do everything in her power to help this beautiful boy. As breeder’s we must know if our contracts are worth the paper they are written on and we must be willing to fight for our puppies.
The lawyer files the lawsuit in small claims court and the Sheriff’s office serves the lady with the papers. The court date is set for March 19, 2004.
At 4:00 PM on March 11th the breeder’s attorney calls and says he believes he has good news. The lady’s attorney has just contacted him and the lady has decided to surrender the dog and wants to know how much the breeder is willing to pay her to get him back. The breeder and her attorney settle on a range of figures that can be negotiated. The amount goes up if the dog is returned with his papers, signed surrendering ownership. A pick up date is suggested and the travel arrangements start.
The breeder is blessed to have a friend who lives in the same state as the dog who is willing to make the long drive the next day. The woman agrees and the transfer will occur at the office of the woman’s attorney. The friend arrives, pays the amount offered and takes possession of the dog and his papers.
How Is He?
Whew! We have him. As the friend drives home, she wonders where she has smelled that awful stench before? But, that’s a different story. What’s important now, is that it was this beautiful boy, who wags his whole body, who stinks to the high heavens. The friend calls the breeder right away to let her know she has him and is headed home. The friend and breeder make arrangements to meet the next day so the breeder can take possession of her 21-month-old baby boy.
When the friend reaches home, she lets him run and play, feeds him and then decides he must have a bath before going to bed.
It is very sad, but this beautiful boy is not just dirty, he is covered with ticks, his ears are packed with gunk, and his nails have not been trimmed for ages. Through all this he still wags his whole body.
The next day, the friend and breeder met and the little boy got to go home. At home, he settles right in. He loves to play with the other Spinone and sleep next to the breeders’ bed at night. He is a gentle, loving boy.
Next came the trip to the vet. The vet verified the Thornit powder was working its’ magic on his ears and his nails are cut. His blood work checked clear for heartworms but the fecal sample came back positive for hookworms. It will be a few days before the results of the Lyme test is known. His general health seems good. That is a relief.
Now it is off to be groomed and make sure all the ticks are gone. The lady who groomed him said when she was done ‘he would smell good enough to date’. She was right.
The baby is treated for the hookworms and 3 days later is started on his Interceptor worm protection.
On Friday the word came back, he tests ‘mildly positive’ for Lyme disease. His vet recommends a two-week treatment of antibiotics and testing again in 3 months.
It would seem, by the grace of God, he has returned home just in time before he gets too sick.
A Better Life
I believe things always happen for a reason. A few days after the breeder found out her boy is not being properly cared for; she receives a call from a lovely lady who is interested in a puppy or a re-home Spinone. As soon as the lady is told about the boy she is interested. He sounds like he would fit right in with her husband and two sons. She keeps in touch with the breeder through each step of the process.
One week after the sweet boy is back in the hands of his breeder his new family comes for him. They are a beautiful couple and the puppy is completely silly over them. It is like he knows who they are and he has been waiting for them to give him the home he deserves.
The End? Never!
I’m not kidding anyone. We all know this tale is about one of my puppies. But it could be one of yours. As breeders we place our beautiful babies to the best of our ability but let’s face it, we are working with limited information.
This story has a happy ending but not every story does. As breeders we must follow up on our puppies. We need to make sure the families know we are here for them no matter how old the dog is. We must be willing to go the extra mile if the care of our puppy is in question. Yes, that’s right . . . no matter where they live, they are still our puppies from the day they are born until the day they die.
There are many reasons to share the ‘Tale of a Dog’. It may serve to help breeders and puppy buyers but primarily it is meant to help the dogs. Please do your part to help too.